Paul’s 29 points help Clippers beat Nets 101-95
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Paul scored 17 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter after banging his left knee early in the game and the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Brooklyn Nets 101-95 on Saturday night in a matchup of playoff-bound teams.
Paul made 12 of 13 free throws and had 11 assists, Willie Green added 15 points, DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Blake Griffin scored 11 points for the Clippers, who improved to 28-8 at home and won their second in a row.
It was their franchise-record 10th consecutive victory against an Eastern Conference team.
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The Nets were led by Brook Lopez and Deron Williams with 18 points each. Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson added 15 points each and ex-Clipper Reggie Evans had 16 rebounds.
The Clippers got a scare in the first quarter when Paul bumped his left knee with Keith Bogans and briefly left the game. A similar thing happened to Paul in January when he ended up with a bruised right kneecap after colliding with J.J. Redick and missed games.
But Paul carried the Clippers in the fourth when they rallied from five points down to take the lead for the first time since the second period and avoid a season sweep by the Nets.
The Nets tied it at 90-all on four straight points by Lopez.
Paul’s jumper put the Clippers back in front 92-90. Jamal Crawford, who finished with 13 points, stole the ball from Williams and dunked on the fast break for a 94-90 lead with 48 seconds left.
Johnson’s running layup cut the lead to two points before Paul completed a three-point play for a 97-92 lead with 22 seconds left.
Paul scored 11 of the Clippers’ final 13 points.
Jordan scored six points in the Clippers’ 18-11 spurt that began with Paul’s 3-pointer and was capped with one from Caron Butler that tied the game at 65-all late in the third. Jordan scored on back-to-back alley-oops from Paul and Griffin.
From there, the Nets outscored the Clippers 10-5 to lead 75-70 heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Nets led most of the second quarter and a free throw by Evans put them up 48-47 at the break. The Clippers led by eight points in the first quarter, when they made 5 of 10 3-pointers, before the Nets closed on a 14-7 run to trail 25-24.
NOTES: The Nets were seeking their first road win against the Clippers since Nov. 15, 2010. … The Clippers’ old consecutive win streak against the East was nine games from Feb. 19-Nov. 14, 2001. … The Clippers clinched a playoff berth in consecutive seasons for the third time in franchise history after Utah lost in overtime to San Antonio on Friday. … Clippers G Chauncey Billups missed his second straight game because of a strained right groin. … The Clippers’ Lamar Odom guarded Kris Humphries for a while in the first half, with Odom’s wife Khloe Kardashian looking on. The trio is still officially related through Kim Kardashian’s brief marriage to Humphries; their divorce trial is set for May 6.